Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Directed By: Miguel Arteta

Starring: Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould, Dylan Minnette, and Kerris Dorsey

It's a three-day weekend.  Granted, every weekend really should be.  Working more hours on average per week than the vast majority of other nations around the globe, America is overworked.  It's needless to say that I get ecstatic when I think of getting some extra time face down in my pillow on Monday morning.  All that being said, the other good thing about holiday weekends is that they're crammed with new releases at the box office.  My inner movie geek gets excited almost every time, but things feel a little different this weekend.  Though the fall movie season is upon us, and Oscar bait abounds, this weekend feels a bit underwhelming.  There are plenty of new titles on the big screen.  It's just that none of them look particularly appealing, at least on the mainstream front.  Take Disney's latest pic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for instance.  It's a dud.

Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) is having a nightmarish day to say the least.  On the eve of his 12th birthday, his family seems to be intent on throwing him a cheesy party.  Just recovering from having gum stuck in his hair, he stumbles in front of Becky Gibson (Sidney Fullmer), the girl he likes at school, and even sets her lab notes on fire in class.  To make matters worse, the attendance list for his birthday party tomorrow is thinning by the hour.  Though a week too soon, Alexander's classmate Patrick is throwing the birthday party to end all birthday parties, and it's tomorrow as well. It certainly doesn't help that Patrick has photoshopped a number of pictures of voluptuous women with Alexander's face and has sent it out to the entire student body.  All in all, it's safe to say that today is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the lad.

Conversely, Alexander's family is having a magnificent day.  His unemployed stay-at-home father Ben (Steve Carell) has just landed a job interview with a gaming firm and is having tons of fun with his infant son Trevor.  His workaholic mother Kelly (Jennifer Garner) has a promotion opportunity at her feet with a new children's book being published and read by Dick Van Dyke tomorrow.  His older brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) has his driving test and his junior prom tomorrow with the girl of his dreams.  His older sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) is on the verge of theatrical success with her upcoming performance as Peter Pan.  Finally, his younger brother Trevor speaks his first word today, "fommy" (a father mommy).  Sick of hearing about everyone else's wonderful day, Alexander makes a birthday wish that his family gets to experience a little bit of the hell he's enduring.  With the cursed day that follows, they do.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
is about as cheesy and saccharine as it sounds.  Channeling the positivity to which Steve Carell's Ben Cooper often refers, director Miguel Arteta uses the same old playbook for Disney family flicks.  Treading no new territory and not crossing familiar territories in a particularly fresh or innovative way, Arteta offers us one formulaic flick that tugs at moviegoers' heart strings at exactly the standard moment.  Moreover, the predictable sappy nature of it all prevents Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day from ever finding its groove.

The performances from the cast are over the top and not necessarily in a good way.  For his part as the titular character Alexander, Ed Oxenbould doesn't exactly offer us an endearing performance.  Instead, what we get is a whiny kid.  As Alexander's dad Ben, Steve Carell is undeniably goofy and silly, but that doesn't translate to comedic gold.  As Alexander's mother Kelly, Jennifer Garner gives a rather stiff performance.  For their parts as Alexander's older siblings Anthony and Emily, Dylan Minnette and Kerris Dorsey are the perfect prom duke and theater geek.  In fact, they're too perfect.  Both are clearly "on" the entire film.

It's clear that I have my misgivings about Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It's a family film mostly missing genuine familial charm.  While the film eventually finds its groove, the damage has already been done.  It's too late.  This tongue twister gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a couple of whiskey sours with this one.